There is a certain type of Christian that is obsessed with the end of the world. Specifically, the end of the world that heralds Christ’s Second Coming – when all are raised bodily from the dead, and the righteous are taken into god’s bosom (if she has bosoms), and the wicked are cast into the eternal fires of hell, where they are apparently afflicted with something tortuous enough to result in the gnashing of teeth. And, while your average Christian believes that Jesus will make an appearance at some stage (either as described above, or some watered-down version thereof), there are some Christians who positively yearn for it.
Which leads us to Harold Camping, from Family Radio. This small group of Christians has done us all the extraordinary courtesy of calculating the precise date and time of The Rapture, the moment when Christ will come down to earth to gather up the faithful and take them to heaven. Those of us left behind apparently have 153 days to think about what we’ve done, before god destroys the entire universe, probably with some kind of bomb that we haven’t invented yet.
In case you’re wondering, it’s happening on May 21, 2011.
Now, this isn’t the first time someone has predicted the end of the world. It’s not even the first time that Harold Camping has predicted the end of the world. He originally predicted that it was going to happen in 1994, but, once the Rapture failed to eventuate, he discovered an error in his calculations, which he has now corrected (I think he had forgotten to carry the Son). So, this time, apparently, it’s for realz. I guess that means I have nine days left for my token, half-hearted conversion. Seemed to work for this guy.
Anyway, this obviously raises a few problems for the damned (what if there aren’t any more bartenders?), but don’t be thinking that it’s all peaches and cream for the raptured, either. I mean, they have their pets to worry about. That’s right, their pets. Apparently there are no dog parks in Heaven.
If you are planning on being raptured, though, there’s no need to panic. Thankfully, there are many kind-hearted atheists around to look after your pets for you after you’re gone (for a small fee, of course). Bart Centre is one such atheist.
I must admit that, when I first heard about this last year, I thought it was hilarious. My thoughts alternated between “Why didn’t I think of that?” and “How can people be that stupid?”. But, while it’s easy to laugh at idiots paying for an apocalyptic pet-minding service, it’s also fairly easy to see that it’s unethical.
When you think about it, it’s no different to the TV evangelist, or the astrologer, or the homeopath. In fact, you could even argue that it’s worse, since a homeopath, for example, probably believes in the crap they’re peddling, so you could at least say that they were peddling crap in a warped form of good faith. You can’t say that about Bart Centre – he’s peddling crap, and he knows it.